Tag Archives: CVW-5

165,000 tons of Rock & Roll, Ready for Their Close-up

30 Years Ago Today: A port beam view of Forrestal-class supercarriers, San Diego-homeported USS Ranger (CV-61) with Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW-2) aboard, and her sister, the Japan-based USS Independence (CV-62) with CVW-5 embarked, underway in the Perian Gulf during Operation Southern Watch, a multinational effort establishing a no-fly zone for Iraqi aircraft south of the 32nd parallel in Saddam-era Iraq. Taken on 16 September 1992.

U.S. Navy photo DN-ST-93-00101by PH2 Andrew C. Heuer, via the National Archives.

Note the mix of F-14As (VF-154, VF-21), F-18Cs (VFA-192, VFA-195,), A-6Es (VA-115), SH-3Hs (HS-12), EA-6B Prowlers (VAQ-136), and S-3Bs (VS-21) aboard Indy and the similar complement of aircraft (sans Hornets) of VF-1, VF-2, VA-145, VA-155, VAQ-131, HS-14, and VS-38 on Ranger. These were some of the final deployments for the Tomcat, Intruder, Sea King, and Viking, who would be withdrawn within the next decade.

Indy, commissioned in 1959, had just finished filming Flight of the Intruder aboard prior to her deployment to the Gulf War and was decommissioned only six years after this image. Stricken in 2004, she has since been scrapped.

Ranger, commissioned in 1957, earned 13 battle stars for service during the Vietnam War, and like her sister, was a movie star, having been used to film scenes for Top Gun. She was decommissioned just a year after the above image was snapped, stricken the same day as Indy, and similarly scrapped.

CVW-5 endures, still based in Japan in association with the forward-deployed carrier named after a movie star– USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).

Meanwhile, CVW-2 is attached to San Diego’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1 and the flagship USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)– which due to her record of West Coast homeports has been a filming location for JAG, Crimson Tide, Behind Enemy Lines, and her own documentary series, 1995’s excellent Fortress at Sea.

VS22 Looking Flat

It is just a little bit over 80 years after the Plum/Pensacola/Republic Convoy was ordered to make for Australia instead of reinforcing the Philippines– a good call because the 2,000 mobilized National Guardsmen and two warships (the cruiser USS Pensacola and gunboat USS Niagra) of Task Group 15.5 would have had little-to-no effect on the disastrous Dec. 1941-May 42 Fall of the Philippines, only adding to the number of 78,000 surrendered American and Allied troops.

However, in a reboot of naval power on display, Valiant Shield 2022 was just held in the Philippine Sea and the ninth biennial U.S.-only exercise was a decent show of strength, at least in terms of carrier power.

VS22 this year included both two carrier strike groups —USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 embarked, and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) with CVW 9 embarked– along with USS Tripoli (LHA-7), the latter of which recently showed off a 16-strong F-35B loadout as part of the “Lightning Carrier” concept.

Roll that beautiful bean footage:

How about those stills: 

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gray Gibson)

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gray Gibson)

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gray Gibson)

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gray Gibson)

On the downside, I would love to see two or three times that amount of escorts around three flattops, as the carriers are only trailed by two elderly Ticos (which are soon to be retired)– USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) and USS Antietam (CG 54)— and three Burkes: USS Benfold (DDG 65), USS Spruance (DDG 111), and the recently-rebuilt USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62).

It really is sad that the vast squadrons of CGNs, CG-converted DLGs, DDG-2s, Spru-Cans, Knoxes, and FFG-7s were slaughtered in the 1990s and early 2000s without replacement other than the Navy continuing to order $1.8-Billion-per-hull Burkes.

Appropriately, the pinnacle event of VS22 was the sinking exercise (SINKEX) on the decommissioned FFG-7, ex-USS Vandegrift (FFG 48).

35 Years Ago: WWII Meets Cold War

A beautiful port bow view of the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV-41, ex-CVB/CVA-41) “somewhere in the Philipine Sea” as she is underway with Carrier Air Wing 5 (CARAIRWING FIVE) embarked, early January 1987.

Laid down on 27 October 1943 at Newport News as the lead ship in a class designed to carry a whopping 137 aircraft to fight the Empire of Japan, Midway was a week and a day too late for her intended task, commissioned on 10 September 1945.

Much modified with an enclosed bow and an angled flight deck in a three-year conversion in the mid-1950s, she would continue to operate in the jet era, largely with CVW-5 embarked. Midway took CVW-5 to Vietnam twice (April 16, 1971 – November 6, 1971 and September 11, 1973 – October 5, 1973) then continued to operate the wing, forward deployed to Naval Air Facility Atsugi, until August 1991.

Notably, her 1987 deployment was the first for Midway to carry the F/A-18A/B Hornet. VF-151 of CVW-5 had, on 25 March 1986, conducted the final carrier launching of a Navy fleet F-4S Phantom II off the carrier during flight operations in the East China Sea, closing out an era.

She carried three F-18 Hornet squadrons, as she was unable to operate F-14s for an extended amount of time and the F-4 had been retired.

Her Hornet squadrons included VFA-195 (Dambusters,) VFA-151 (Vigilantes) and VFA-192 (Golden Dragons) between 1986 and 1991. NARA DN-ST-93-01289 CVW-5

Decommissioned 11 April 1992– only five years after the above image– Midway is currently the largest naval museum ship in the world, and the only aircraft carrier commissoned after WWII that is preserved and open to the public. With all of the Navy’s conventional flattops now consigned to the scrappers, she will likley hold on to both of those titles.

Meanwhile, CVW-5 is still around and still in Japan, attached to forward-deployed Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5 and flagship USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)— and yes, they still fly Hornets, albeit of the Super type.

Main Battery, Away

Check out this series of great images from LIFE photographer Bill Ray in 1964, chronicling Douglas A-1J Skyraiders from Attack Squadron 196 (VA-196) “Main Battery” aboard the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) gearing up for a strike in Vietnam.

VA-196 was part of Carrier Air Wing 19 (CVW-19), tail code NM, aboard the “Bonnie Dick” for the carrier’s West Pac deployment to Vietnam from 28 January to 21 November 1964.

Commissioned in late 1944, Bonnie Dick was the first ship in the modern Navy to commemorate the name of John Paul Jones’ famous Revolutionary War frigate– and she got in enough licks in during WWII to earn one battlestar.

Her WWII cruise

She was much more active in Korea, carrying the F9F Panthers and AD-4 Skyraiders of first Carrier Air Group 102 (CVG-102) then CVG-7.

Stretched and given the SCB-125 overhaul in the mid-1950s, BHR was in the thick of the air war off Vietnam from 1964 onward.

USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) with her crew spelling out Hello San Diego, while en route to San Diego on 9 February 1963. She returned to San Diego, her home port, on 11 February, following a Western Pacific cruise that had begun seven months earlier, on 12 July 1962. Aircraft on her flight deck include three E-1, 11 F-8, six F-3, 13 A-4, and nine A-1 types. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 97343

Completing her sixth and last deployment to Yankee Station on 12 November 1970 (again with CVW-5), she was decommissioned the next year and, after spending 21 years on red lead row as a source for potential spare parts for the similarly laid-up but slightly younger USS Oriskany (which the Navy saw as a mobilization asset through the Reagan years), she was scrapped in 1992.

As for CVW19, it was disestablished in 1977, having conducted nine Vietnam tours from the decks of Essex-class flattops (BHR, Oriskany, Ticonderoga).

The end of VA-196 came on 21 March 1997, after more than 48 years of service, with the squadron switching to A-6 Intruders in 1966, an aircraft they put to good use not only over Indochina but also in the Persian Gulf, but that is another story. 

Climb Mount…Fuji

World War II in the Pacific began (unless you ask the Chinese or French) on 2 December 1941 with the famous “Niitakayama Nobore” (Climb Mount Niitaka) signal sent to Nagumo’s flagship to clear the way for Yamamoto Kido Butai force of a half-dozen aircraft carriers to turn towards Hawaii and attack Pearl Harbor on the morning of the 7th.

Interestingly, the U.S. military has, since the final days of WWII, instituted the common practice of posing warplanes over Mount Fujisan, just outside of Tokyo, which I always took as a bit of historic payback.

Corsairs Fringe Fuji. Painting, Wash and Scratch Board by Standish Backus 1945 NHHC 88-186-AC

Corsairs Fringe Fuji. Painting, Wash and Scratch Board by Standish Backus 1945 NHHC 88-186-AC

Grumman F9F-6 Cougar Jet Fighters Fly in formation over Mount Fuji, Japan, 12 December 1954. They are from USS YORKTOWN's (CVA-10), VF -153. Plane in foreground is BU 128209. 80-G-K- 17821

Grumman F9F-6 Cougar Jet Fighters Fly in formation over Mount Fuji, Japan, 12 December 1954. They are from USS YORKTOWN’s (CVA-10), VF -153. Plane in the foreground is BU 128209. 80-G-K- 17821

F9F Panthers over Mt. Fuji, c.1957

F9F Panthers over Mt. Fuji, c.1957

Formation of VA-22 A4C “Skyhawk” aircraft over Mt. Fuji, Japan, 27 April 1964. NHHC

Formation of VA-22 A4C “Skyhawk” aircraft over Mt. Fuji, Japan, 27 April 1964. NHHC

MOUNT FUJI, Japan (April 12, 2007) - Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 perform a formation flight in front of Mount Fuji. CVW-5 is embarked aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Kitty Hawk operates from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jarod Hodge

MOUNT FUJI, Japan (April 12, 2007) – Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 perform a formation flight in front of Mount Fuji. CVW-5 is embarked aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jarod Hodge

Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters past Mount Fuji, Shizuoka, Japan, March 12, 2017. The squadron, currently supporting Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, validated the long-range capability of auxiliary fuel tanks on their H-1 platform helicopters by flying 314 nautical miles during one leg of the four-day mission, March 10. These aircrafts’ extended range is crucial to maintaining a stronger, more capable forward-deployed force in readiness in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The squadron is based out of Camp Pendleton, California. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andy Martinez)

Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters past Mount Fuji, Shizuoka, Japan, March 12, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andy Martinez)

Bonnie Dick on the scene, 49 years ago today

In a special Warship Wednesday, here we see the (then) 25-year-old Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) underway in the Gulf of Tonkin on 13 June 1969 during her fifth cruise to support operations from Yankee Station off the Vietnam coast. Note the F-8J Crusaders, A-4E/F Skyhawks and distinctive Grumman E-1B Tracer AEW “Stoof with a Roof” aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 5 on deck.

Commissioned in late 1944, “Bonnie Dick” was the first ship in the modern Navy to commemorate the name of John Paul Jones’ famous Revolutionary War frigate– and she got in enough licks in during WWII to earn one battlestar.

Her WWII cruise

She was much more active in Korea, carrying the F9F Panthers and AD-4 Skyraiders of first Carrier Air Group 102 (CVG-102) then CVG-7.

Stretched and given the SCB-125 overhaul in the mid-1950s, BHR was in the thick of the air war off Vietnam from 1964 onward.

USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) with her crew spelling out Hello San Diego, while en route to San Diego on 9 February 1963. She returned to San Diego, her home port, on 11 February, following a Western Pacific cruise that had begun seven months earlier, on 12 July 1962. Aircraft on her flight deck include three E-1, 11 F-8, six F-3, 13 A-4 and nine A-1 types. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 97343

Completing her sixth and last deployment to Yankee Station on 12 November 1970 (again with CVW-5), she was decommissioned the next year and, after spending 21 years on red lead row as a source for potential spare parts for the similarly laid-up but slightly younger USS Oriskany (which the Navy saw as a mobilization asset through the Reagan years), she was scrapped in 1992.

However, her name lives on in LHD-6, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship of about the same size, commissioned in 1998.

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) Underway in the Gulf of Mexico during builder’s sea trials, circa early 1998 NH 107664-KN

As for CVW-5, they have been flying as of late from USS Ronald Reagan and, when not aboard, cool their heels at Atsugi and Iwakuni, though the Crusaders, Skyhawks, and Tracers have long ago been traded for Hornets, Growlers, and Hawkeyes.